bookMilitary Briefs 3
Australian Centurions in Vietnam

Mouse House Enterprises®
By Shane Lovell

ISBN 0-9577586-2-6

Review by Peter Brown

A reinforced Squadron of Centurion tanks was part of the Australian commitment to Vietnam, serving four tours from 1968 until withdrawn in 1971. This consisted mainly of standard gun tanks with a few control vehicles, armoured recovery vehicles, bridgelayers and dozer tanks. These were modified in various ways, initially with standard Australian fittings and later with extra items added, removed or changed as a result of experience in action. While some of these changes such as removing the side skirts are obvious, many are not and cannot always be seen in photos. There is no need to puzzle out what was changed or even when, as this book has all the detail you will ever need to know the precise appearance of these tanks.

First part of the book briefly describes the purchase of Centurions, with the dates when they were ordered and the serial numbers allocated to them. This covers all vehicles purchased including those bought after the Vietnam era. Improvements and modifications are listed which allows a picture of the tanks as deployed to be built up. Basic methods of the use of the tanks is described though individual actions are not covered in detail, leaving more space for the actual vehicle details.

Individual changes are covered one by one. These cover a wide range of operational improvements, from reinforcing the track guards and stowage bins to prevent them being damaged from use in the jungle conditions, through to fitting extra machine gun ammunition racks and additional radios. Practical matters include reinforcing the turret stowage basket, fitting scrapers to allow the crew to clean their boots before entering the tank and adding mounting points for turret sunshades! All these and more are also illustrated using a mix of photos taken of the tanks in action and detail close-ups. Most affected the gun tanks but there were others affecting the ARVs and they are also covered and there are some unusual mine clearing additions along the way.

Sample pages, click for larger view
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Details of vehicle colour schemes and makings are described, from the standard basic schemes through to how the individual squadrons personalised these on their tours. Most individual are vehicle nicknames ranging from puns like "Sancho Panzer", tank ones on the lines of "Iron Outlaw", humorous ones like "The Born Loser" and more mundane offerings like town names honouring "Phuoc Me", and in some cases even cartoon markings carried on a few vehicles. Crews are not forgotten as their uniforms and equipment are also covered, with details like the usage of Browning pistols and F1 SMGs at various times.

Final sections add to the amount of detail, with a photographic walk round of a typical Centurion with emphasis on changes even down to three patterns of idler wheel and casting numbers. While most photos are black and white, there is a short colour section plus colour drawings of markings. Line drawings from vehicle manuals show even more details of tanks and ARVs. More drawings follow the variations in turrets and include a page of scale plans of stowage bins and baskets and headlight guards.

If that were not enough, tables showing all the tanks deployed and their call sign numbers mean you can identify a specific vehicle from photos or else pick one to make a model from the old Tamiya kit or the Modelcraft clone.


In short, this could be described as everything you wanted to know about the Centurion in Vietnam but could not find all in one place before now. And all well done, ideal for anyone wanting to make a model or two or just find out more on a fascinating subject.

Highly recommended.

Contact Mouse House Enterprises® for purchase details:
PO BOX 9112
Deakin ACT 2600
Phone 61 2 4844 6271 (local 02 4844 6271)

Page Created 21 December 2002